All About Me
Hello. Here’s the ‘About’ bit where I am meant to tell you how marvellous I am! Well I do think I am marvellous, but not more marvellous than anyone else. We are all marvellous. We all have a unique purpose on this planet. And I remain surprised that little me (yes, I once was little), had some of her dreams realised and a career in acting and comedy was a small part of my purpose.
And yes, I do mean a small part – please read on.
It’s crazy when I think how I used to act out all the parts in Annie the Musical aged 7 every day after school and nearly 40 years later I made my West End debut as Miss Hannigan.
It’s mad how much I imagined what it could be like to be in a BBC studio doing a sitcom and I ended up acting in many including The Vicar of Dibley and Absolutely Fabulous – which meant working with childhood heroes.
And then, for goodness sake, I ended up winning awards for Miranda, the sitcom I wrote and starred in. All totally unexpected.
Then there was Chummy in Call the Midwife, a role I will be forever grateful for. She shows us, that an introverted gentleness is a quality people so love and need and therefore needs more respect.
Next an arena stand-up tour with My What I Call Live Show and a Hollywood film Spy with Melissa McCarthy and one of my idols Allison Janney. When I did a scene with her – having watched her over and over in The West Wing – I had an out of body experience and promptly forgot all my lines.
These are just highlights – there have been many other wonderful roles and experiences.
In recent years I have been writing more (I have published 5 books now). My new passion is helping people with anxiety, stress, burn out, and chronic illness in to freedom and I have been researching a book to collate all the universal keys for recovery. One thing to share for now is that I may have written this ‘About’ bit on my work life, but I said that my work was only a small part of my purpose.
I believe our key purposes are not ‘success’ or ‘status’ but to just be. Learn to be who we truly are, within whatever we do.
Whether that’s loving and kind, funny or gentle, wise or silly, etc. Because that’s what we are remembered for. And the greatest gift of my career is to realise that it’s the least important part of me.
What else? I support these charities: Resurgo, Comic Relief, Theatres Trust and the Prince’s Countryside Fund. I am passionate about animals, nature, swimming and boating (never happier on or in water!)
14th December.Born in Torquay, Devon (the doctor told my mother “it’s a long one”)
First experience of watching my parents cry with laughter at the Morecambe and Wise Christmas Specials.
Already trying to be the class clown.
Cearly found myself funnier than others found me!
University… Less said the better...
My First Edinburgh Festival Show. I went every year for 11 years. It was frustrating at the time, but in retrospect taking longer to get in to comedy meant I had truly honed my act.
Academy of Live and Recorded Arts Drama School.
Orange Girls, my comedy double act was formed.
Started office temping in the charity sector as a PA. Every year I would leave before the Edinburgh Festival assuming my big break would come. Every September I would return asking for my job back!
Started working as a PA at Comic Relief. Assumed the acting career wouldn’t work so chose Comic Relief as the place to base myself going forward.
Started going solo with stand-up and sketches on the London and Edinburgh circuit.
Hyperdrive. My first sitcom main role. Retired the office work.
I got my best friend, little Peggy. She belonged to the costume lady on the set of sitcom Not Going Out.
9th November. Miranda, Episode One, Series One first aired. I assumed it would fizzle out and I would go back to office work, which I was fine about - I just hoped I wouldn’t get recognised!
Comic Relief! Having been a life-long fan and working there as a PA , helping them as a comedian was a beautiful, surreal, life-moves-in-weird-ways moment.
I met and fell in love with Chummy in Call The Midwife. Only went and got nominated for a BAFTA for Best Supporting Actress!
My first book Is It Just Me? was published. I didn’t even do English A level!... It was a No. 1 Sunday Times Bestseller.
Gangsta Granny with David Walliams.
Pretending to be Beyonce at the 02 on my stand-up tour. My backstage rider was probably less complex than hers – a banana and a dog bowl (for the dog, not me).
The finales of my sitcom aired. My alter ego finally accepted herself and married the love of her life. I was genuinely crying in the last little speech to camera.
The movie Spy was released. Had one of the best times in my life filming it in Budapest.
West End Debut as Miss Hannigan in Annie. Being in a musical when musicals had been so much part of my life - unbelieveable.
Hosted the Royal Variety Performance. Made Prince William gallop!
Getting up at 5.30 a.m look to film Jane Austen’s Emma. A Working Title Movie.